Sunday, November 02, 2008

Truest statement of the week I

Does [Norman] Solomon even understand what it means to "put up a fight"? And what's with the notion that progressives will "apply pressure" once Obama wins? They have no cash and he's already going to receive most of their votes. What are they going to do to pressure him, poke him in his ribs? Cause a stink by farting through the halls of Congress? Obama may actually listen to us if he thought progressives were considering to vote for a guy like Ralph Nader, which is the point Nader seems to be making by campaigning in swing states this week. Nader knows how to put up a real fight, one not mired in hypotheticals and fear-mongering, so he's pressuring Obama where it matters most.
Of course, such a direct confrontation to Obama's backward policies ruffles the slacks of many devout liberals. But that is the point. Progressives are not flush with cash and as we all should know, flashing the almighty buck is usually the best way to grab a politician's attention. But the only thing we have at our immediate disposal now is votes. These crooks need us to get elected. Obama already has the majority of left-wing support shored up despite his resistance to embrace our concerns. Imagine if he had to earn our votes instead of receiving our support without having to do a thing for it?
So let's prepare for what's ahead. Obama may win next Tuesday, but what will happen to the movements that have been sidelined in order to help get the Democrats elected? What will become of the environmental movement after January 20? Will it step up to oppose Obama's quest for nuclear power and clean coal? Will the antiwar movement work to force Obama to take a softer approach toward Iran? Will they stop the troop increase in Afghanistan?
These are but a few of the questions I'd like progressive supporters of Obama to answer. I've yet to hear exactly how they will pressure an Obama administration. In fact, I don't think they will. George W. Bush will be gone and that will be enough for most.

-- Joshua Frank, "Note to Progressives for Obama: What Happens After Election Day?" (Dissident Voice).

Truest statement of the week II

The problem with that explanation, of course, is the slanted coverage in favor of Obama has happened since the day he announced close to two years ago. It was slanted in favor of him and Hillary Clinton, while far more electable candidates such as Edwards (before the successful blackmailing him out of political life--how convenient) were shoved aside in favor of the identity politics narrative. And THEN, when it became a two-person contest in the primaries, it was open season on both Bill and Hillary Clinton. Not a word of protest by the mainstream media for the 24/7 shitting upon them because they were not run out of the Beltway in the 1990s for refusing to kiss the Beltway Slut's ass. Hell, no, they were right in there with the Obama campaign with the "racist" filth, the RFK filth, the NAFTA filth, the caucus filth and so forth, but never, ever seriously vetting Obama despite his numerous problems. Criticisms were brushed aside or tagged as racist, and believe me, the race card is about all Obama had to get as far as he did. Nobody DARED to criticize him then, and nobody dares to do it now for fear of being tagged racist.

-- Susan Nunes "Media Bias" (Random Notes).

Truest statement of the week III

After defending Sarah Palin, I heard from a member of the angry left who wrote: "Your (sic) from a Third World country, or your family is, stop trying to be white." I also heard from baby boomer activists who regret -- as they see it -- yanking me off that landscaping crew and sending me to the Ivy League. Or as one put it: "Unbelievable that you can sit there and defend Sarah Palin. I broke down doors for you to have a foot into the society you now participate in."
When I praised McCain, a liberal asked: "What are you, the Uncle Tom of Latinos?" She advised, "Make your people proud because you are shaming them."
When trying to assert control over freethinking Latinos and African-Americans, the liberal catchword is "disappointed." Lately, I've received dozens of e-mails from readers who use that word to describe how they feel about me. In the liberal tradition, most of the missives are condescending. Like this: "At one time, your articles were interesting to read but ... it seems you have lost your way." Or this: "You are feeding the ignorant and twisting truths so badly they become lies ...One day my words will resonate, sorry you lost your way in the meantime."
To read their complaints, it seems the last time I had my bearings was -- coincidentally -- the last time I wrote something with which they agreed. It's part of how broken our political discourse has become. We're not allowed to say that we think either Obama or McCain would make a fine president. We can't agree to disagree; we have to destroy the other side. We're trapped in an all-or-nothing paradigm where partisans demand complete agreement and undying allegiance.

-- Ruben Navarrette Jr., "One-way political discourse" (San Diego Union-Tribune).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday. What have we got? Let's start with who helped. The list includes Dallas and:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ.

And Isaiah. We thank them all.

Truest statement of the week I -- Joshua Frank. He deserves it and we wanted to do more with it but there wasn't time.

Truest statement of the week II -- Susan who is also deserving, Susan Nunes.

Truest statement of the week III -- RN Jr (I'll mispell if I try to spell it right, so initials will do) was part of a documentary Ava and C.I. wanted to note weeks ago but I begged and pleaded with them to cover something else. So he's earned a truest and more.

Editorial: Silence -- Syria was attacked last week and not many seemed to care. Syria was attacked by the US and no one forced the White House to answer as to why. For those who wonder what happens after the election, these are the sort of topics we've covered before and will return to covering.

TV: The Uglies -- I (Jim) begged and pleaded for Ava and C.I. to grab some stuff this week. What they wanted to do was cover SNL (as requested by SNL friends) and Tavis Smiley's PBS show -- the appearance by Labelle. They may grab it next week. I like the way this turned out but Ava and C.I. do not.

Robin Morgan: Troll (Ava and C.I.) -- Jess broke a tooth during the writing edition. How? He was eating but nothing with a bone. (Vegetables, he's a vegetarian.) He was in pain and the writing edition was placed on hold early this morning as we got him an emergency dentist visit. When we came back to the edition, Jess was doped up and we knew we didn't have time to argue about anything. So we quickly divided up. Ava and C.I. grabbed this topic and felt they had damn little to say (read it and disagree) but knew Isaiah was blocked for a cartoon idea so they called him with a few suggestions and he provided this one which will run at TCI and also appears here. Thank you to Isaiah.

Heroes and villains -- Kat and C.I. came up with the Beach Boys opening. Dona pieced together scraps from four features that were killed online. If it works for you, great. If it doesn't, it wasn't written as one piece.

Only Once (Ty, Betty, Cedric and Marcia) -- Ty, Betty, Cedric and Marcia wanted to cover this topic and when we resumed the writing edition, they knew there was no time for a roundtable so they decided to write about this topic themselves.

Film quotes -- Mike, Wally, Dona, Rebecca, Elaine, Ruth and I worked on this (with help from Ava and C.I.). We did this before and it was very popular so when we were pressed for time, Mike suggested we grab this for another feature.

Uh, WMC, something's hanging out -- Short item that Dona and Rebecca led and largely did. WMC, cover it up, your bias is showing!

Matt Gonzalez asks the big question -- This is a reprint from the Nader campaign and the only thing (and only campaign) we're specifically noting going into this week's election. Those of us who declared (all but Ava and C.I.) endorsed Nader. So we wanted to offer a strong reminder of why the Nader - Gonzalez campaign is one you should be thinking about as you vote and we couldn't have written anything any better than what Gonzalez produced for the campaign.

Highlights -- Kat, Mike, Wally, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Marcia, Cedric and Ruth wrote this and picked all highlights unless otherwise noted.

So that's what we've got and we'll see you next week.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Silence

Last Sunday, the US attacked Syria. The US crossed the border into Syria and killed eight Syrians. The Telegraph of London described as follows: "In an echo of the Israeli air strikes which last year targeted a suspected Syrian nuclear facility, US military helicopters were reported to have crossed into Syria to drop troops who then executed the mission.The state news agency Sana reported that eight civilians had been killed in the raid. 'Four American helicopters violated Syrian airspace around 16:45 local time (1345 GMT) on Sunday,' it said. 'American soldiers' who had emerged from helicopters 'attacked a civilian building under construction and fired at workmen inside, causing eight deaths. The helicopters then left Syrian territory towards Iraqi territory,' Sana said."

And the was pretty much all anyone ever got.

The US attacked Syria -- the way so many fear Iran will be attacked -- and there was no huge protest, there wasn't even a desire to make it an issue to discuss. Neither the Republican presidential candidate John McCain or the Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama felt the need to call out the attack.

And with no one calling it out, there was no pressure on the head of an alleged democracy to explain to the American people what happened. Instead of hearing from the administration, the public was served up whispers and gossip, unsourced.

It was treated as though it were no problem, this despite realities and the fall out. Realities?
Martin Sieff (UPI) reminds, "Cross-border attacks in any conflict carry the risk of widening it uncontrollably. That is especially the case here, since Syria is the main Middle East ally of Iran, and tensions between the United States and Iran remain high over Tehran's drive to acquire long-range ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. And the risks of escalation are far greater when ground troops are involved in the incident, not just airstrikes." Fall out? The treaty masquerading as a SOFA that the US wants so badly with Iraq became even more iffy as the puppet government in Baghdad had to call out the attack, publicly pledge to their neighbors that Iraq would not be allowed to be used as a staging ground for US attacks and as they had to announce that they were launching an investigation (and that they would share the results with Syria). And that's just noting the fall out for Iraq.

Monday morning, White House spokesperson Dana Perino refused to comment on the attack.

*"The United States government has not commented on reports about that and I'm not able to here either."

*"I can't comment on it at all, no."

*"I'm not going to comment in any way on this; I'm not able to comment on that."

*"I'm not going to comment on the reports about this, no, I'm not. Anybody else?"

*"I'm not going to comment on it at all. This could be a really short briefing."

*"I don't know. I don't know."

*"Jim, all I can tell you is that I am not able to comment on reports about this reported incident and I'm not going to do so. You can come up here and try to beat it out of me, but I will not be commenting on this in any way, shape or form today."

*"I don't believe anybody is commenting on this at all."

*"To give you an answer to that would be commenting in some way on it and I'm not going to it."


"*I understand the reports are serious but it's not something I'm going to comment on in any way."

The White House wasn't saying a word but Syria was very clear, via their Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, that they saw the attack as "criminal and terrorist aggression." That judgment was not limited to Syria. Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim (Babylon & Beyond, Los Angeles Times) reported, "The pro-U.S. faction within the Lebanese government condemned the U.S. move. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora accused the U.S., which funds his military, of an 'unacceptable' violation of Syrian sovereignty. 'Any military attack against an Arab country or on a small country by a larger country is an act we reject,' said a statement issued by his office." And Monday also brought the news that fall out included calling off an announced press conference featuring the Syrian and UK foreign ministers. Tuesday, Hurriyet explained, "The weekend U.S. raid into Syrian territory will hamper Turkey's efforts to create a more stable Middle East through mediating between rival Israel and Syria, according to experts." Hurriyet maintains Turkey had no advance knowledge of the attack on Syria and notes, "Turkey has so far hosted four rounds of indirect talks between Israel and Syria with the aim of bringing the bitter enemies together for direct talks. The fifth round, originally scheduled for Septemeber, was postponed after former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resigned amid corruption claims. . . . Washington has remained silent on the Olmert-led Israeli government's initiative to engage in indirect talks with Syria under Turkish auspices."

Tuesday at the US State Dept, there was no comment on the attack but Robert A. Wood wanted the press to know that he had nothing in writing about Syria closing a an American school and cultural center in Syria: "I've seen, actually heard about the reports but we have not been officially notified by the Syrian government. So until we do, I don't have much further to say on it."

The next day, Sean McCormack would use the US State Dept press briefing to nah-nah-nah the fact that the US school and cultural center remained open but he would clam up when asked if the US Embassy in Syria was shutting down or if there were protests scheduled outside of it. He had no answers -- this despite Dana Perino steering reporters to the State Dept for answers to those exact questions.

The questions were answered by the US Embassy in Syria and, to date, the Embassy is the only US governmental outlet that has made any sort of official statement regarding last week's developments in Syria and that was one sentence.

US State Dept press release

And not only was it closed Thursday, it was also closed Friday although Robert Wood would state that the Friday closing was due to "a holiday."

While voices in the US remained largely silent, some voices did speak out. Farrah Hassen (Asia Times) reminded that 8 Syrians died ("including a farmer, three children, and a fisherman") and that while "numerous questions" continue, no answers are provided. Hassen notes, "By violating Syrian airspace and apparently not consulting the Syrians about its supposed intelligence on Abu Ghadiya ahead of the attack, the Bush adminsitration has confirmed, yet again, its disdain for international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter." Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) observed that an agreement allowing cross borders raids is one thing but, "Breaking into the borders of any country without a similar agreement is considered a hostile act and a violation of this country's sovereignty, besides being a breach of international laws. This attack raised many questions about its targets and content. First, the US never carried such attacks when the Syrian-Iraqi borders were almost open and Syria was accused of allowing hundreds of militants to infiltrate into Iraq to carry out vandalism operations. However, the situation has changed lately as these accusations decreased and Syria was no longer the country that allows militants into Iraq. Syria has also taken steps to mend its relations with Lebanon and France, which should bring it closer to the US, not the opposite."

Those issues were avoided and the administration was allowed to go through a full week without answering to the people. Want to keep pretending we have an opposition party?

Want to keep pretending we have a healthy and viabrant democracy? Or even a functioning one?

TV: The Uglies

Last week, TV aired a whole lot of ugly. And even in a week of stiff competition, Chuck Schumer managed to land ugly of all uglies.

"I would say," he heavy-panted to Charlie Rose Friday on PBS, "with Senator Obama, nuclear energy is on the table."

As if the words weren't ugly enough, the cow eyes the Charlies made back and forth at one another (like something out of Zoolander) really sent it over the top. So much so, in fact, that he managed to beat Tiny Teethed Davy Brooks who also appeared on Rose's yawn-fest Friday (we'll come back to it).

The senator's words are only schocking if you haven't been paying attention. Barack's bought and paid for by the nuclear industry and assorted other enemies of the environment. But a number of people were shocked when we repeated the words -- shocked that they came from Schumer. "There really isn't a Democratic Party anymore, is there?" asked one who early voted for Barack and would now take back that vote. In answer to the question, no, there really isn't a Democratic Party.

There is a cult around an egomaniac and it took a lot of ego for Barack to do his infomercial Wednesday night. For those who can't remember, H. Ross Perot bought TV time in 1992. That's where the similarities end -- though none of your Water Cooler Set could set you straight.

The billionaire Perot bought the spots with his own money and he didn't use them to air Whitman's "Song Of Myself." He used the his infomercial to address the economy -- which, for the record, was in a lot better shape in 1992 than it is currently.

But there was Barack, for a half hour (on all the networks except for ABC) hawking photos of his parents, showing clips of his speeches -- just underscoring how pathetic and unaccomplished he truly is. Think about it, a half-hour of network time with no (other) commercials? Frank Sinatra got an hour of time -- with commercials -- from CBS on November 16, 1965. Unlike Barack, Frank had plenty of accomplishments to point to.

Election 2008, when the presidential election became one of those faux-reality shows and, if Barack didn't have the appeal of Evan Marriott, he was a dead ringer for Rick Rockwell.

Dead was 30 Rock Thursday night. The big return that petered out.

The claim is: It's a hit!

That's the lie they're pimping. While 30 Rock did indeed get its best ratings ever, the reality is that it has never had good ratings. In what was the 'big' return, the failed and failing and flailing sitcom came in third. Translation, it beat Supernatural on the CW but not much else. In other words, it's a bomb.

That's very hard for the Water Cooler Set to state. Maybe they fear losing out on an NBC tote bag or free GE light bulbs? Whatever the fear is, the truth is the truth.

Truth is the debut episode was third for the night in its timeslot. Another sad truth is that the show got a little bit higher of rating (.4) than did the pilot episode two years ago. Three years later and that's all the show can brag about?

If you're singing "Right Back Where We Started From," you may have actually watched. The season three opener was a lot like season's one "The Baby Show." In that one, Liz (Fey) was consumed with baby fever and ended up abducting a small child. Thursday, Liz was consumed with baby fever yet again -- and still 'tragically' single. It was all so retro and offensive that, had a man written it and it starred Blair Brown, people would be up in arms. Instead, expect Tina to get a pass for her backlash claptrap.

We have to note the hair (we'll be kind and avoid the waistline). If Madonna was sporting Bette Davis' Poodle a year back (see Live Earth), Tina's sporting The Shetland. It's the overly long, overly curly thing. The comedy she's attempting to do is supposed to be sleek and brisk. Supposed to be.

But you can't be sleek and brisk and bet the farm on Oprah. The suits are pissed at the ratings. But one told us that they still have hopes for this week. We tried not to laugh as they explained Oprah means big ratings. On daytime TV, maybe once upon a time.

30 Rock once provided Jerry Seinfeld's return to sitcom form but now hopes to become the big Thursday happening by offering the increasingly unpopular Oprah playing a MAD TV version of herself. Tired and tiring.

TV and Tina's hair were so ugly last week that another network took pity on viewers. CBS put an X on The Ex-List. And thank goodness for that. The meandering show played like a combo of all the wrong parts from Sandy Dennis' Sweet November and Tuesday Weld's A Safe Place. This really bad one hour show was supposed to be both comedy and drama but never supplied either.

The show revolved around Bella Bloom -- yes, you can get a tooth ache from that name. Bella's problem wasn't that she'd never experienced love, it was that she'd misplaced it like a set of keys. So each week, she would team up with an ex to discover whether or not he was Mr. Right. It was as dull as it sounds and so was Bella who, as a friend pointed out to her, owns her own business next to the beach and won't even make time to hit the beach. When you're that much of a drip, maybe you didn't misplace your true love, maybe he ran like hell from you?

A lot of uglies showed up during the show's four episodes. Brian Van Holt was the ex two Fridays ago when the show aired for the last time. He was actually an improvement in that he could act and was attractive. But it was like sitting through another Peter Griffith "chick film" (Steel Vaginas II?) as nothing ever happened. One of the subplots involved Daphne Bloom getting married. Not in episode four, not in episode one, two or three. In fact, it was one of those sub-'plots' that's as ill thought out as the main plot where nothing ever happens there either. Each week, Bella meets an ex and he's nice and she's nice and, gosh darn it, it's all just so wholesome it's as though Pax never ceased to be a network.

CBS did viewers a solid by not making them suffer through the show on Friday, NBC did viewers a solid by bringing back Ben Affleck as host on last night's SNL.

Ben's best moments in the past involve the Who Wants To Be Groped By An Eleven-Thousandaire? skit, the skit where he attempts to impersonate Matt Damon in order to land Mango and the Fantatic spoof. Our big concern with Ben hosting wasn't fear of having to say something bad about someone we know and like because Ben actually is funny.

Among his best moments was a skit where he played Keith Olbermann in all his blustering. He did a funny pitch-meeting sketch, amused in the Target sketch as Sir Cumfrence, and he was funny in The View spoof (so was Casey Wilson as Jennifer Aniston -- the rest of that skit was disgusting including using men to play women) but it's the latter that brings up our fear.

So let's say it. The best SNL host of the 90s was? Alec Baldwin. (Baldwin still makes a good host and Baldwin was who Ben played in The View sketch.) But along the way, Baldwin's best moments became small screen ones. His rise at SNL goes hand-in-hand with the demise of his leading man career on the big screen. If you grasp that Ben's Gigli is Alec's The Getaway, you can see how the comparison could get scary.

Scary was Seth yet again trying to do Weekend Update solo. We were asked why we didn't comment on Seth's facial hair and our honest reply was, we just assumed his tastes, like his jokes, were very old. That would explain his Miami Vice look. However, we were informed that Seth's fronting the shadow because he's trying to 'butch up' and is worried about how he comes across on camera? Seth, anyone thinking your gay is actually crediting you with much more depth than you possess. Silly viewers, whores don't have depth, they just run up the meter.

Seth had time to tell Palin 'jokes' on Weekend Update, he had time for "Joe The Plumber" 'jokes,' but, strangely, he didn't have time to note that Barack's aunt is living in Boston in public housing and against government's orders which demanded her deportation back in 2004. In the good old days, if Lorne had ever caught anyone trying to carry the water like that for any candidate, they would have been gone. Back then, he saw himself as the last protector of comedy. These days, he goes along -- making so many who remember his sneering and scorning of The Carol Burnette Show (a better show in any season than SNL in any season) point out just how badly he needs to be retired.

As always Seth got in his insults at John McCain. This time, to his face. McCain guested playing himself in the opening and on Weekend Update. The one-time host of SNL proved to be far more relaxed on SNL than he was in any debate. In the opening skit, he had to endure Tina Fey's increasingly tired spoof of Palin. Tina's never had the voice down but she's no longer even consistent. (She uses her own voice when she starts whispering about 2012.) She had nothing to offer but her usual bitchy moments. McCain played good sport and Cindy McCain played a spokesmodel (displaying McCain "Fine Gold") in the opening as well. The McCains were very good sports and only drove home (yet again) how there are no jokes about Barack on SNL. He must be treated with kid gloves and sealed in a vacuum.

The McCains stuck around for the entire show and were on stage for the goodbyes. We were asked (by SNL writer friend) if we noticed the beeline Tina made for Cindy? Yes, we did. But then Tina hasn't been ridiculing Cindy McCain, has she? Sarah Palin's whom she avoided and whom she's been ridiculing.

She's been as bitchy about Sarah Palin as Tiny Teethed Davy Brooks and what a proud moment this must be for both of them. Friday, Davy Brooks was justifying his disdain for Palin and for what she represents (populism, he explained). If you could get past those Island of Dr. Moreau teeth, you could enjoy him whining that he wasn't elitist! He wasn't! It wasn't fair to call him an elitist!

Charlie Rose tried to flip it into a good thing and started yammering on about who wouldn't want to be the best? But Davy was having none of it. Read his lips, he's not an elitist.

So what if he writes for The New York Times, so what if he coins terms like "bobo"s (which sound a little too art school for the masses and why the term never caught on with Republicans), so what if he wears pink shirts on camera, so what if he purses his lips a great deal, so what if
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic) described him in September as "Latte-sipping, Chardonnay-swilling sissy David Brooks"? He's as much a two-fisted He-Man as Woody Allen, Jerry Lewis and Paul Lynde. Say it to his face and he'll likely strike you across your own with a white glove.

In a week that saw the alleged comedy 30 Rock tank and saw another (The Ex-List) pulled from the air, Davy Brooks proved laughs can still be had on TV provided the characters are larger than life and the performers are not afraid to make a fool out of themselves.

Robin Morgan: Troll (Ava and C.I.)

Bill Flanagan: You wrote a pretty funny letter to Musician about Rickie Lee Jones.

Joni Mitchell: Oh... I can just see me when I'm an old woman writing nasty letters-to-the-editor all over the country.

Bill Flanagan: She made a crack in Musician about Linda Ronstadt trying to sing jazz, and you wrote that jazz wasn't a private sidewalk; anybody who wants to can walk there.

Joni Mitchell: She said that Peter Asher had appeared at a concert of hers, and she knew for sure that night that he would go and tell Linda to do a jazz album because jazz was now hip. What she didn't know was that Linda had this idea to do those albums with Nelson Riddle all on her own, had no support. Peter was chewing his arm up to the elbow thinking, "Oh God, this is terrible,this could kill her!" Just like Mingus. It was very risky.

Bill Flanagan: Losing another one to jazz.

Joni Mitchell: Yeah. This did not look like a good move. She did it purely on her own impulse. It was something she wanted to do. It was completely her own idea and her own artistic motivation. So at first I tried to write the letter from that tack and then I thought of Geraldine Campbell when I was a kid. She used to chase me with a hatchet if I crossed in front of her house. If I'd go up the back alley she'd be there saying "This is my property. You can't cross over it!" And I thought, man, it was like Rickie was possessing jazz. It was there before her, it'll be there after her. I was dabbling in jazz and being persecuted for it by the time she had some public success with it. And I'm not the innovator of it, I didn't invent it. It's all a totem pole.

The above exchange is from Bill Flanagan's "Joni Mitchell Has The Last Laugh" (Musician, December 1985). We thought of that last week as Robin Morgan resurfaced at (Democratic Only) Women's Media Center to yet again attack Governor Sarah Palin.

Journalistically, it was an embarrassment for many reasons including the fact that she made no apologies for her still uncorrected lies from her last swipe at Palin. But what it really said was, "Robin Morgan thinks she owns feminism!"

You sort of picture Robin with a hatchet, screaming at everyone and having no idea how, not only is she coming off like a crazed psycho, she's doing so -- in the eyes of many -- in the name of feminism. Or maybe, like Isaiah,' you see Robin as "Ms. Troll"?

Ms. Troll

A functioning movement would have told Robin to cool her jets some time ago. They would have told her that 'movement troll' was no road to liberation.

We always say we write "a" feminist take and not "the" because feminism is a diverse movement. Robin fails to grasp that and seems to think because she coined some phrases at the end of the sixties (and stole some without crediting -- not exactly sisterhood behavior), she owns feminism.

Feminism was there before Robin Morgan was born, it'll be there after she's gone.

After you've gone and left me crying

After you've gone there's no denying

You'll feel hurt you'll feel sad

You're gonna miss the best friend you ever had

It's like Judy Garland was singing the song just to Robin!

One of 2008's big failures is the lack of leadership from 'leadership.'

Women like Robin Morgan have had nothing to contribute for the bulk of the year because they've seen their role as 'leaders' as 'big ass boss.' They're not anyone's boss.

"Leadership" in the feminist movement is not anything to hoard over anyone. It is a role that comes with responsibilities and Robin (and Kim Gandy and many, many more) have acted as though responsibilities don't exist and that the grassroots are nothing but idiotic minions waiting to be ordered around.

Sarah Palin isn't just a woman, she's one who self-identifies as a feminist, does so publicly and has done so publicly for many, many years.

Robin's panties are in a twist and damp because Palin's not pro-choice.

Too damn bad, get the f**k over it.

We've advocated here that feminism was not elastic and that certain guidelines need to be created (and Rebecca's long done that at her site). 'Leadership' ignored it because it wouldn't allow them to claim assorted questionable women in Ms. yearly (and embarrassing) wrap up charting all the YOU GO FAMOUS GIRL! moments that have damn little to do with the feminist movement. They wouldn't have been able to run so many questionable celebrity covers (we're not speaking of this decade) if they'd narrow the term down.

Having refused to take up that argument, Robin Morgan cannot show up and suddenly attempt to change the rules because she personally loathes Sarah Palin.

Palin's a feminist. By the rules and standards in place in 2008, Palin's a feminist.

Tough s**t, Robin, grow the hell up.

Instead of doing that, Robin decides to launch one cat fight after another. In fact, she's become The Ultimate Cat Fighter (though, if it would hurry her scampering off from public life, we'd gladly step in the cage with her and take her on). A bitchy, negative, nagging shrew attacking a younger woman. The younger woman is a vice presidential nominee. And Robin? To put it kindly, she's a "faded rose from days gone by."

As a 'leader,' she's supposed to be aware of perceptions and she's damn well supposed to be aware that when she acts out every negative stereotype of feminism with her public stage caterwauling, she embarrasses the movement.

After we got past the fact that failed actress Robin wants to go out playing the role of the vengeful harpy, the thing that bothered us the most was this BITCHY moment from Robin:

But if any actual feminists are concerned about the effect on Women’s Movement institutions and energy of this clutch of "formers" (a former chapter official of a national feminist organization, a former editor of a feminist publication, former Democratic funders, former Hillary supporters, and so forth), let me reassure you. The "trust date" had already long expired on these women, who'd been voted off feminist leadership posts, or fired, or quietly asked to resign. Some are confessed consultants to the campaign whose candidates they now--surprise!--endorse. I never imagined I'd see a "feminist" mercenary. But then I never heard of rats climbing onto a sinking ship, either.

Rats? Oh, that's so very, very amusing because it reminds of so many stories of Robin's days at Rat and, let's be really damn clear here, if Robin wants dirty linen aired, we'll air all of it. Be prepared because the ground will shake.

There'll come a time

And you'll regret it

There'll come a time

You won't forget it

Robin's acting like a real bitch and that's the only word for it. She thinks she can determine not only whether Sarah Palin deserves feminist status but whether other women do as well.

She calls out feminists who support Sarah Plain and snarls, "Some are confessed consultants to the campaign whose candidates they now--surprise!--endorse." You mean like Robin tried to be a consultant to Barack's campaign? (They didn't want her. It's a homophobic campaign and there were concerns and confusions over whether Robin was "one of those lesbian feminists" as a Barack aide explained it to us.)

Robin's mind has decayed. There's nothing wrong with being a consultant to a campaign. There's something wrong with being one and hiding it. The women Robin's getting all catty about aren't hiding a damn thing. But Robin's tossing every piece of shit she can squeeze out at the wall and hoping something leaves a smear.

The only thing she's done is created a stink and an embarrassment.

It's no longer enough that she attack Sarah Palin, she now wants to smear other feminists. Let's repeat, if this is the new stage of feminism, Robin, please note, we'll partake and St. Robin of the Assembly Line Feminism will be the first burned at the stake; however, fairness will not allow us to stop with you. We'll burn 'em all -- friend and foe alike.

We'll talk about the money that disappeared from Ms. that no one was ever supposed to know about because it could 'embarrass the movement.' We'll talk about the 'gal' who was there for another after a marital break up and how, all these years later, the woman from the broken marriage has no idea that her 'friend' was the mistress. We'll make it as ugly and painful for all, we'll spread it around because we're not Robin Morgan, we play fair. If this is the new wave of feminism that Robin's 'leading,' then let's have at it. And we'll certainly discuss past smear campaigns by Robin and other 'leaders'.

When Robin went after Sarah Palin, she should have been loudly called out. It should have been obvious to her that feminism is not doing the bidding of the patriarchy by attacking a woman to advance a man.

Someone should have explained to Robin long ago that she doesn't own feminism and she doesn't control anyone but herself. (And she can't even control her mouth -- her mouth has a cracked mind of its own.) They should have made it very clear to her that feminism is not a private sidewalk but a public space and anyone can participate.

Heroes and villains

Once at night Catillian squared the fight
And she was right in the rain of the bullets that eventually brought her down
But she's still dancing in the night
Unafraid of what a dude'll do in a town full of heroes and villains

Heroes and villains
Just see what you've done

Heroes and villains
Just see what you've done

-- "Heroes and Villains" written by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks, Beach Boys' Smiley Smile

Heroes and villains abound and one of the great things about 2008 is the self-check.

Barack and McCain C

As hideous as everything that's gone down and is still going down is, there's also the fact that a lot of people were provided the chance to question the orthodoxy.

Debate b

One way to do that was to leave the two-party mind set and support a third party or independent presidential candidate. This year saw a media blackout on these candidates, yes, but it also saw an awareness of the blackout. It was a real learning experience as so many 'independent' outlets copied the MSM in marginalizing candidates who actually had the gall to stand for something.

If you paid close attention, you grasped Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader's biggest problem was not the MSM, it was Panhandle Media. Had Panhandle Media treated them like the real candidates they are, there struggle for coverage might not have involved so much work.

If you were a Democrat, you had a really big self-check this year as you saw Team Barack and The Cult utilize homophobia, sexism and racism repeatedly and get away with it. You saw Panhandle media re-inforce those disgraceful tactics. You saw the party that screamed and whined as far back as 2000 be perfectly okay with stolen elections when they liked the results.

If you were a Republican, you saw some (not all) feminists prove just what sexist pigs they could be (hello, Robin Morgan!) by lying about Sarah Palin and by attacking her with bitchiness. When Hillary's under attack, Robin calls out men and women attacking her for Bill's involvement with Monica Lewinsky but Robin is happy to bring up Todd Palin's decades old DUI and try to make Sarah answerable for it. It's do as I say not as a whore feminism and women like Robin Morgan need to issue an apology or vanish from the public stage.

You could have learned all the above just by paying attention.

If you had, you would have noticed that FAIR waited until after the presidential debates to suddenly notice that Ralph, Cynthia and other presidential candidates weren't getting press attention. (In their action alert, FAIR didn't say if they were forwarding it to their own CounterSpin which spent each week promoting Barack and ignoring independent and third party presidential candidates.)

And as you saw all that information, you could do a self-check and ask, "Do I have ethics? Or am I just another gutter liar like Robin Morgan or the self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders or the idiot Norman Solomon or any of the other miserable excuses for 'independent' voices in this country?"

If you passed the self-check, great. If you didn't, it's not to late to save your soul -- provided you're not an 'independent' media whore -- they're already consigned to hell with 2008's other villains.

Only Once (Ty, Betty, Cedric and Marcia)

One positive thing regarding the possibility Barack Obama gets elected president Tuesday is, frankly, never again.

Barack 4

As four who are Black, let's be really clear that Barack is bi-racial. But that is how he was presented and the reality is that he's an unqualified minority candidate.

Barack Obama, Clarence Thomas. They're not so very different. Thugs in the Republican Party knew that nominating Thomas would mean the liberal opposition would fall silent because Thomas was Black and White liberal guilt can always be manipulated. Two decades later, thugs in the Democratic Party use the exact same strategy to push the nomination of Barack.

It's no coincidence that both men can thank Joe Biden for their rise. Biden chaired the committee that went all soft on Clarence and Biden chaired the committee that let Barack grab show moments on those rare occasions he made it to work.

Thomas and Obama are the two laziest and idiotic men in public life. Their stupidity rivals Dostoevsky's The Idiot.

But it only happens once.

At some point, the Black community is going to be up in arms that they blew their first ona bi-racial man who doesn't represent or serve the Black community. It'll be too late when that day arrives.

It'll be too late for to explain patriotism then as well and we especially call out all Black leaders for putting the community in that position.

A bi-racial man gets African-Americans to the polls? That's a good thing?


Because what it also implies is that the Black community doesn't give a damn about the country. (And not just the Black community, but we're focusing on our own.) It says that the country and the elections didn't matter in the past and that the only reason it's really important today is because a bi-racial man (falsely billed as Black) is in the race. It's nothing but American Idol passed off as concern for the country.

And when the election's over, you better believe these issues will be raised.

And there will be no hiding behind the lie that Barack offered programs to serve the community because he did not. It's demonstrated just how shallow our community is (vote by skin shade!) and how pitiful our leadership is that we'd be hoodwinked and taken in by a candidate who never promised us a damn thing.

So two and three years from now, when the sheen and gloss if off Barack, expect to hear the difficult questions. Expect to be asked, "Do Blacks really care about the country or just themselves because, looking at the turnout in 2008, it's really doesn't appear to be the former?"

But, again, it can only happen once. Only one 'first.' Too damn bad our community decided to waste our 'first' on someone who wasn't even Black, who offered nothing to our community, and who entertained the White community by repeatedly slamming us.

One thing we hope will be loudly noted is that given the choice to support a Black woman or a bi-racial man posing as Black, the community largely went with the man -- as usual.

Film quotes

The movie quotes feature was popular enough that we decided to revisit it. First up, ten quotes from films, followed by the answers.

1) Tess: Twayne picked up Sam in a gay bar.

Sam: I was working on a case.

Tess: Every night for six months?

2) "You'll hunt me. You won't get me. Send the dogs on me. Because that's what needs to happen. Because sometimes, the truth isn't good enough. Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded."

3) "My horoscope tells me I'm going to be famous. I deserve it, too. I've been very good. I haven't done bad things with boys -- only if I like the boy."

4) "Frankly, I don't care for your tone. You should get down on your knees and thank God you have a cousin who makes up interesting stories about you. I'm the best P.R. guy you'll ever have. Do you think any even mildly cool trade-fair girl would give you the time of day if she knew the pathetic, Bible-dancing goody-goody you really are? You're far weirder than someone merely 'into S&M.' I mean they have some kind of tradition, we have some idea what S&M is all about -- there're books and movies about it. There is nothing to explain the way you are."

5) "There's something wrong with the Nite Owl. That prick Exley shot the wrong guys. But they made him a hero and whoever killed my partner is still out there. In here I know it. But I can't prove it. I'm not a detective. I'm not smart enough. I'm just the guy they bring in to scare the other guy shitless."

6) "I said, 'Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie, or are you gonna bite'."

7) Vice President Merck: What are your plans?

Sunny: I don't have any. I mean, well, I have a job at the Safari Club. Lou -- well he's my boss and he's really a nice guy and everything. But business hasn't been so hot and I was kind of hoping for advancement, you know? But the problem is -- is that Lou's aunt works the cash register and his sister is the hostess so, I mean, I'm going to have to wait around until one of them quits or drops dead. I guess you know what that's like.

8) "He's not gay. He's been seeing another woman and he wants a divorce. I need a cigarette."

9) "Look, what do you think is going on here? Since I've met you, I've nearly been incinerated, drowned, shot at, and chopped into fish bait. We're caught in the middle of something sinister here. My guess is Dad found out more than he was looking for. And until I'm sure, I'm going to continue to do things the way I think they should be done."

10) "These clankers of yours, let's see what you've got. Not a homo, Keith, gonna leap across the table at you. Just wanna be sure you got what it takes. They asked me to recommend someone for the management trainee program before I go. So . . . you decide."


1) Murder By Death (Eileen Brennan and Peter Falk).

2) The Dark Knight (Christian Bale).

3) Lord Love A Duck (Tuesday Weld).

4) Barcelona (Chris Eigeman).

5) LA Confidential (Russell Crowe).

6) Reservoir Dogs (Michael Madsen).

7) Protocol (James Staley and Goldie Hawn).

8) She's The One (Jennifer Aniston).

9) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Harrison Ford).

10) In The Company Of Men (Aaron Eckhart).

Uh, WMC, something's hanging out

The views expressed in the WMC commentaries are those of the author alone and do not represent The WMC. The WMC is a 501(c)(3) organization and does not endorse candidates.

So declares (Democratic) Women's Media Center. It doesn't follow that and, certainly, an FEC or IRS investigation would find WMC losing their tax status since they pimped Barack like crazy. But pay attention to that first sentence and then check out WMC's intro to Robin Morgan's highly insulting "Moose, Mousse, and Spalinism" which reads:

Here, Robin Morgan takes aim at a few "feminists" who have taken to the blogways lately to support John McCain and Sarah Palin. Their reasoning is flawed, says Morgan, to say the least.

Takes aim at a few "feminists"? Really?

And you still want to claim the commentaries do not represent WMC?

You better get your shit together real soon, WMC. Only one of you has money and her health isn't all that. You're doing nothing that makes a case for any woman to ever donate money to you and, ask The Nation, you need more than one rich supporter.

Matt Gonzalez asks the big question

Tuesday is election day and Matt Gonzalez, Ralph Nader's running mate, weighs in with an explosive essay entitled at Nader - Gonzalez '08.
Matt Gonzalez

"What Do They Have to Do to Lose Your Vote?"

Watching the Democrats in the final weeks of the presidential election has been a lesson in revisionist history. While they lament the terrible crimes perpetrated against the American people by George Bush and vow to keep fighting for our rights, they conveniently gloss over the fact that they have no standing to make such claims. Indeed, the Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, have actually voted with President Bush’s agenda, making them complicit in his acts, not valiant opponents defending our liberties.
Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said that if she became the speaker of the House of Representatives she would end the war in Iraq. Remember that? The Boston Globe noted, "Pelosi vows no ‘blank check’ on Iraq funds.” (1/8/07). In her own words: "If the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have to justify it. And this is new to him, because up until now the Republican Congress has given him a blank check with no oversight, no standards, no conditions.” Rick Klein of the Globe noted "Pelosi’s comments mark the first suggestion by a Democratic congressional leader that Congress could use its authority over the nation’s finances to hasten an end to the war. Her remarks point toward an aggressive stance on Iraq from Congressional Democrats in their opening days of control of the House and Senate.”
Yet after she became the speaker of the House in Jan 2007, war appropriations actually went up by $50 billion, with no strings attached and no date for the withdrawal of troops. This year, 2008, they’ve gone up by another $25 billion for a two-year total of $350 billion, with no end in sight. So what happened to the promise of "no blank check?”
Sen. Harry Reid, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, has complained that the Republicans have filibustered (a procedure used by the minority party to delay voting on legislation) more times in the last two years than in the entire history of the United States to explain why he can’t move forward a progressive agenda. First he said it was over 70 times, then adjusted it by saying it was 65 times (Las Vegas Sun 3/6/08); yet still the highest for any two-year period (the previous record was 57 filibusters) (Politico, 3/6/08; 4/15/08). But Sen. Reid’s frustration has proven to be a red-herring. Did you know that Reid lets the Republicans filibuster telephonically, meaning that he doesn’t require that they physically present themselves on the floor of the Senate? Why is he making it easy on them? Is this what an opposition party looks like?
Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party nominee for president, has a long history of voting against the interest of the American people, and specifically, the working class. Before entering the presidential contest, he supported the Republican Class Action Reform Bill, which made it harder for class-action lawsuits to be brought in the state courts. State courts are exactly where consumer protection lawsuits and recent wage and hour claims have succeeded in improving the lives of workers and helped them obtain better wages and breaks during work hours have succeeded.
Progressive commentators at the time called it a thinly veiled special-interest extravaganza. Journalist David Sirota noted "Opposed by most major civil rights and consumer watchdog groups, this Big Business-backed legislation was sold to the public as a way to stop ‘frivolous’ lawsuits. But everyone in Washington knew the bill’s real objective was to protect corporate abusers.” (The Nation, 6/26/06). So why did Obama vote for it?
Sen. Obama supported one of the worst attacks on civil liberties in recent history, the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which extended an earlier law granting law enforcement expanded powers to search telephone, e-mail, and financial and medical records, in addition to granting the federal government a host of other powers to combat so-called domestic terrorism. After saying he would oppose it if elected to the U.S. Senate (NOW questionnaire, 9/10/03), in July 2005, Obama voted for it.
But this wasn’t enough. After entering the presidential race and running on a "change” message, Obama vowed in February of 2008 to vote against—and filibuster if necessary—the FISA bill amendment (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) that gave immunities to telecommunications corporations that cooperated with the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program. This eavesdropping program clearly violated the privacy of law-abiding Americans at the behest of the president, and made the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover seem tame by comparison. Those voting in favor of the bill didn’t even first require full disclosure to see how deep the illegal conduct extended and agreed to apply the law retroactively.
Despite his promises to the contrary, and despite the vehement protests of many of his supporters, when the FISA bill came to the Senate for a vote this past July, Sen. Obama voted for it without explaining how this vote fit in with his change message or reconciled with his repeated claims he was going to protect the American people from repeated assaults on civil liberties by President Bush. Here was his chance to lead and make good on his promise, and what did he do?
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the FISA bill "an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance" (ACLU press release, 7/9/08). Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office called the bill "a Constitutional nightmare” and noted "with one vote, Congress has strengthened the executive branch, weakened the judiciary and rendered itself irrelevant.”
Obama even voted to stop debate on the bill so he could get back to the campaign trail. How ironic is it that he was in a hurry to give more speeches about change and hope but couldn’t find the time or integrity to convert these ideas into action?
On the eve of the vote MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted "I’m betting that [Pres. Bush’s] wildest dreams did not include the prospect that Congress — a Democratic-led Congress — would help him cover up his crimes. Yet that is exactly what the US Senate is poised to do.” (Countdown with Keith Olbermann, 7/8/08).
As Sen. John McCain started to call for domestic drilling to ease our dependence on foreign oil, rather than debate the scientific and economic illogic of the position, Sen. Obama announced that he agreed with McCain. Reversing a 25-year ban on off-shore oil drilling, Sen. Obama led his party’s reversal, offering no explanation for how this would ease oil prices, particularly as experts noted that drilling would likely have an almost imperceptible impact on oil prices in the near future.
As Lester Brown and Jonathan Dorn of the Earth Policy Institute noted in "Drilling For Oil Is Not The Answer” (9/30/08) "The U.S. Department of Energy projects that lifting the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) moratorium [of the lower 48 states] would not increase production before 2017 and that by 2030 production would only amount to 0.2 million barrels per day—less than 1 percent of current consumption.”
Furthermore "The U.S. Department of Energy projects that opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would lower gasoline prices at the pump by a mere 2 cents per gallon.” Even if we combined the two regions in question, it wouldn’t amount to much of an impact on oil prices: "Lifting the moratoria on drilling in ANWR and the OCS would reduce the price of a gallon of gasoline by at most 6 cents—and this would not be seen for at least another decade.”
Proponents of drilling have also exaggerated theenvironmental safety of current off-shore drilling and oil production technology in general. There is widespread evidence that current drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is already leading to serious pollution and spills. After reviewing data from the National Response Center, the Houston Chronicle found there had been 595 oil spills across four state coastlines, totaling roughly 9 million gallons spilled in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ("Spills from hurricanes staining the coast” by Dina Cappiello, 11/13/05). So why is Sen. Obama, who claims to care about the environment, now advocating off-shore drilling?
In June of 2008, the conservative Supreme Court struck down the use of the death penalty in cases of child rape (Kennedy v. Louisiana held that states may not impose the death penalty for the commission of a crime that did not result in the death of the victim), a decision that surprised even death penalty opponents who hailed it as an important step toward full abolition of the death penalty. Sen. Obama’s response? He quickly called a press conference to denounce the decision. Obama stated that he agreed with the extreme conservative minority, comprised of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas. Despite the many known racial and class inequities inherent in the death penalty, a practice abolished and abhorred in most of the rest of the world, Obama celebrates that he has always been a supporter of it.
On the campaign trail, Sen. Obama likes to highlight death penalty legislation that he sponsored while a member of the Illinois legislature, to show his commitment to reform. But let’s be clear, he didn’t work on laws to address the disproportionate rate of death penalty convictions of African-Americans, but rather a law to require videotaped interrogations of death penalty suspects. Yes, something we can applaud, but something many critics have noted merely greases the wheels of this injustice.
Most disquieting of all, as a state legislator, Obama voted "to expand the list of death-eligible crimes” (Chicago Tribune, 5/2/07), despite admitting in his own allegedly soul-searching memoir that the death penalty "does little to deter crime.” (The Audacity of Hope, 2006).
On foreign policy, Sen. Obama’s approach is hawkish. He wants to deploy more soldiers to Afghanistan, which will only further destabilize the Afghan-Pakistani border. He simply ignores the historic reality that no invading army has ever managed to successfully win a war in this area or subjugate the Afghani people.
During its ill-fated 10-year war, between 1979 and 1989, the Soviet Union deployed 620,000 soldiers to Afghanistan and sustained 470,000 casualties (sick and wounded, including infectious diseases such as hepatitis and typhoid fever).
Why does Obama want to ignore these facts and risk further destabilizing the area and creating another Vietnam/Iraq occupation there?
With respect to Iraq, Sen. Obama has conceded the main argument of Sen. McCain’s campaign and said the so-called "surge” worked (despite significant evidence and analysis to the contrary). And he has vowed to keep soldiers in Iraq to fight counterterrorism. John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who now leads the Center for American Progress, estimated this would take a 60,000 troop presence to achieve.
Moreover Obama "will not ‘rule out’ using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq” according to Democracy Now! Correspondent Jeremy Scahill. And Obama did not plan on signing on to legislation that seeks to ban the use of such forces by the U.S. government by January 2009, according to one of his senior foreign policy advisors. (Democracy Now! 2/28/08). (This is one promise Obama unfortunately has kept, refusing to sign onto the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont).
In an interview with Amy Goodman, Sen. Obama stated his intention of leaving 140,000 private contractors in Iraq because "we don’t have the troops to replace them.” He also stated the need to keep an additional "strike force in the region … in order to not only protect them, but also potentially to protect their territorial integrity.” Summarizing the interview, Amy Goodman concluded that it sounded as if Obama "would leave more than 100,000 troops, close to 200,000 in Iraq. ‘Troops’ meaning U.S. soldiers and military contractors which some call mercenaries.” (4/1/08).
Even concerning a possible timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq, Obama has diminished his promises. He now is committing only to "reducing the number of combat troops within 16 months,” presumably to "bolster efforts in Afghanistan so that we can capture and kill bin Laden and crush al Qaeda.” (Obama/McCain debate, 9/26/08).
What we know for certain, though, is when given a chance to commit to a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq, Obama said "no.” When Tim Russert asked him, during a debate in New Hampshire in September 2007, if he could promise having American troops out of Iraq by 2013, he would not do so.
According to military policy analysts at the Arms Control Center, in their report "U.S. Defense Spending, since 2001” military spending has risen from $333 billion in 2001 to $696 in 2008 (including $189 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). It’s expected to rise even more in 2009, to $706 billion.
Despite this, Sen. Obama has joined Sen. McCain and called for increased military spending. "I’ve said that we have to increase the size of our military,” Obama told ABC’s This Week (9/7/08). The details of which he has previously noted in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs: "I strongly support the expansion of our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines.” ("Obama surrenders on military spending” by Glen Ford, The Progressive, 1/15/08).
The current financial crisis has generated perhaps the most fascinating political rhetoric of all. Obama has blamed the Republicans for deregulation and in doing so, his poll numbers have given him a healthy lead as we approach the final days of the campaign. The only problem is that the economic crisis is not just the fault of the Republicans. It is the direct result of bipartisan bills enacted into law by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton.
In 1999 Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This repealed the last vestiges of an important Depression-era law, the Glass-Steagall Act (1933), which prohibited banking, brokerage, and insurance companies from merging together, thus compartmentalized the financial industry and protected it from future collapses.
Equally significant in 2000, President Clinton signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which repealed 20-year-old agreements between the Security and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, so that financial institutions could sell credit derivatives such as the now notorious "credit default swaps” without any oversight and with no regulation. Two of its cosponsors included Democratic Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Tim Johnson of South Dakota. The measure had such bipartisan support that it was never even debated in the Senate and was passed by unanimous consent.
This resulted in the repackaging of mortgages into securities and the failure to regulate institutions that then over-leveraged themselves as they sold credit derivatives to investors who wanted protection from risky investments. This is what led to this financial crisis whose ramifications we have only begun to understand.
Both Obama and McCain voted for the $700 billion taxpayer-funded bailout despite the plea of 200 economists (including Nobel Prize winners) urging them not to do so (Open Letter to Congress regarding Treasury bailout plan, 9/24/08). Obama keeps emphasizing that the mess was the fault of Republicans alone. But how is this argument credible when the law responsible for the financial meltdown enjoyed unanimous support from both parties?
It was quite emblematic of Sen. Obama that he has changed his position on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to suit whatever situation he is in. First, while running for the Senate in 2004, he said he supported NAFTA and thought there should be more trade agreements like it. (AP story 2/26/08). Then, while running against Hillary Clinton he blamed her for NAFTA’s impact on workers in the "rustbelt” states of Wisconsin and Ohio. But once he won the primary things changed. When asked if he would truly invoke the six-month clause in NAFTA for unilateral withdrawal, Obama showed his signature political reversal.
NAFTA created a trilateral trade bloc encompassing the United States, Canada, and Mexico, which was meant to foster greater trade between its members. It primarily lifted tariffs on goods shipped between the three countries but has caused economic turmoil both among American and Mexican labor, with unexpected loss of jobs and negative environmental impacts.
Nina Easton, a Washington editor for Fortune, noted in a June 18, 2008 article that "the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn’t want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA,” something he had promised to do when locked in a close primary race with Sen. Hillary Clinton. Asked directly about whether he would move the U.S. out of the trade agreement, Obama said "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified.” Fortune magazine concluded that, despite once calling NAFTA "devastating” and "a big mistake,” Obama "was toning down his populist rhetoric” and had no intention of following through with his anti-NAFTA promises now that the primary battle was won.
In light of this evidence, can we believe any of the other commitments he‘s made?
Those who think Sen. Obama will appoint good Supreme Court justices should just take note of his long history of supporting some of the worst Bush appointees to the federal bench, including Thomas Griffith (D.C. Cir.), Susan Blake Neilson (6th Cir.), Milan Smith (9th Cir.), Sandra Segal Ikuta (9th Cir.), and Kent Jordan (3rd Cir.). The Neilson vote was particularly troubling as both senators from her own state "blue slipped” her for being "too extreme.”
And even when he does manage to muster the courage to vote against conservative appointees, he does it in a lukewarm and perfunctory manner, refusing to join Democratic Party filibuster efforts. This is deeply troubling. He voted cloture (to end any voting delay) on Priscilla Owen (5th Cir.) and Brett Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.) both extremely conservative jurists, thus ensuring they would be confirmed.
Obama’s selection of Sen. Joe Biden as a running mate is particularly troubling and does not bode well for the decisions Obama is likely to make if elected president. Obama has presented Biden as someone who never forgot his roots, is a working class, regular guy.
The only problem with this characterization is Sen. Biden’s voting record. He was one of the main supporters of the Republican Bankruptcy Reform Bill that Pres. Clinton vetoed twice, only to have it signed into law by Pres. Bush in 2005, with Sen. Biden’s ardent support.
Criticizing the Bankruptcy Reform Bill, Arianna Huffington noted that the bill "makes it harder for average people to file for bankruptcy protection [average annual income of Americans who file for bankruptcy is less than $30K]; it makes it easier for landlords to evict a bankrupt tenant; it endangers child-support payments by giving a wider array of creditors a shot at post-bankruptcy income; it allows millionaires to shield an unlimited amount of equity in homes and asset protection trusts; it makes it more difficult for small businesses to reorganize while opening new loopholes for the Enrons of the world; it allows creditors to provide misleading information; and it does nothing to rein in lending abuses.” (, 3/05)
Jackson Williams noted, in "Joe Biden: No True Friend of Working Men and Women” (Huffington Post, 10/27/08), that Biden "didn’t just vote for it, he helped carry the water on it. Some Democrats tried to soften the bill with a series of amendments; for example, exempting military personnel at war in Iraq. Biden joined the majority of his colleagues—the Republicans and too many Democrats—in knocking down every possible change that was offered.”
Sen. Biden has built a reputation as someone who works tirelessly for credit card companies, with some critics even referring to him as the senator from Mastercard—rather than the senator from Delaware.
In addition, Biden voted for the War in Iraq and the Patriot Act, so it’s hard to understand how Sen. Biden is going to help bring about change in the new administration.
Obama called Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez an enemy of the United States and urged sanctions against him. (Interview with Jorge Ramos, El Mercurio, 6/11/08)
He heaped praise on the first George Bush saying, "You know, one of the things that I think George H.W. Bush doesn’t get enough credit for was his foreign policy team and the way that he helped negotiate the end of the Cold War and prosecuted the Gulf War. That cost us $20 billion dollars. That‘s all it cost. It was extremely successful. I think there were a lot of very wise people.” (Larry King Live 3/23/08).
And in a much-anticipated speech to America’s pro-Israeli government lobby, AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Obama towed the typical pro-Israel line. He urged that Jerusalem would belong to Israel, despite peace efforts currently underway which would allow the holy city to be shared among both Israelis and Palestinians. He unequivocally stated "Israel’s security is sacrosanct.” And "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” (AIPAC speech, 6/08).
Before you vote for someone with such a checkered voting record, it might be worthwhile to make some demands on him, don’t you think? Or at the very least we should ask him to explain why he’s capitulated so many times.
I’m sure Sen. Obama would find such questions uncomfortable. In fact, even progressives find such inquiry bothersome: they are aware of Obama’s lamentable history of capitulation on votes that take away our civil rights, but nevertheless cling to their wish that Obama will be something other than what he has already proven himself to be.
But it’s not likely that he will be a transformative leader. He’s already announced economic advisors whose ideas are at the heart of the economic meltdown, like Austan Goolsbee, an aggressive free trader and subprime loan advocate, and former Clinton advisors, David Cutler and Jeffrey Liebman, supporters of market-oriented solutions to social welfare issues such as the partial privatization of Social Security. ("Subprime Obama” by Max Fraser, The Nation, 1/24/08).
He has foreign policy advisors who helped take us into war, like Colin Powell, who in 2003 addressed the United Nations on behalf of the Bush Administration, outlining the reasons the U.S. had to invade Iraq (he also disturbingly, as a young Army Major, worked to suppress key evidence about the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam).
But that’s not all. Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman spoke with journalists Allan Nairn and Kelley Beaucar Vlahos who discussed Obama’s foreign policy advisors (2/10/08). They noted that Obama proudly brought on to his team old cold warrior and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has boasted of having created the whole Afghan Jihadi movement; Anthony Lake, who was behind the U.S. invasion of Haiti during the Clinton years; General Merrill McPeak, who delivered U.S. fighter planes to Indonesia shortly after the Dili massacre in East Timor in 1991; and Dennis Ross who has pushed to subordinate the rights of Palestinians to the needs of the Israeli government.
What do you think the likelihood is that Obama will listen to us, once we’ve voted for him, without making any demands on him?
As Robert Scheer, a noted columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, noted on July 23, 2008, shortly after Obama voted for the FISA bill, "Barack Obama is betraying his promise of change and is in danger of becoming just another political hack.” And Scheer made these remarks before Obama decided to support off-shore drilling, denounce a Supreme Court death penalty decision, and before he voted for the Wall Street bailout.
But we don’t have to vote for either Senators Obama or McCain, do we? Ralph Nader has a more impressive legislative record as an outsider than do Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain combined. And he has a proven record of fighting the culture of Washington. Just think of the Freedom of Information Act, Clean Air, Clean Water, automotive safety, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet despite these accomplishments, Obama and McCain do not believe they should even have to debate him.
What they don’t tell you is that the so-called independent Commission on Presidential Debates is actually a private corporation run by former leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties. The Commission, which was formed in 1987, is currently led by Frank Fahrenkopf, a former head of the Republican National Committee, and Paul Kirk, the former head of the Democratic National Committee. No wonder they won’t debate Nader or anyone else.
Of course they justify this by saying Nader isn’t polling well enough to include him in the debates. Yet, interestingly, both McCain and Obama were losing their respective primary races until they were let into televised debates. And there are well-known examples of how letting a candidate debate "mainstream” candidates can lead to a different outcome. Jesse Ventura won the governor’s race in Minnesota in 1998 when he was allowed to debate the Republican and Democratic Party candidates, going from 9 or 10 percent in the polls to ultimately winning the contest.
Ralph Nader polled at five percent and above at least four different times this year in national polls, and he even reached 10 percent in one poll in the state of Michigan (conducted by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, 4/15/08). This should have been sufficient to gain access to the presidential debates. Ross Perot got in the debates in 1992 even though he was polling below 10 percent. Perot went on to win 19 percent of the vote, and his warnings about NAFTA and deficit spending influenced Clinton policy and proved prescient. Afterwards, the two parties retaliated by creating a 15% threshold which ironically no candidate is likely to reach without being included in televised debates.
The worse part of the so-called presidential debates as they are currently produced is that two-party control ensures that the questions are not sufficiently hard-hitting. Isn’t it appalling that we saw three debates between Obama and McCain at a time our country is suffering its worst economic crisis, and no one asked these men "Why should Americans have any confidence either of you is the best choice to tackle these problems given that both of your political parties helped pass laws that made this crisis possible—or even inevitable?”
They also like to say that voting for Nader is throwing your vote away. The Democrats often cite the 2000 election to blame Nader for Bush’s victory. But they noticeably never mention the 1992 election, when Bill Clinton won because Ross Perot "spoiled” the race for George Bush’s father, an incumbent president. By the way, Clinton got only 43 percent of the vote in 1992 compared to 48 percent by Bush in 2000.
And they offer no explanation for why they haven’t worked on election reform since 2000. Imagine claiming your political party lost the presidency because the "winner” was declared even though he hadn’t won a majority of the votes cast? Then imagine doing nothing to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. Isn’t it odd that the Democrats haven’t worked on election reform in the past eight years?
They never will change the system because the way things are now, they can be assured that they will be in office roughly half the time. They also count on people to accept their arguments that Nader and other third parties aren’t polling high enough to get your vote; that the real contest is between just two candidates.
If all else fails, they argue that it’s the most important election of your lifetime. I’m 43 years old and I’ve heard this argument each time the presidential race has come up.
If you accept these arguments, you are in effect rewarding the two parties for not fixing how we do elections in this country. You reward them for creating the Commission on Debates. You guarantee that things will not change. And you ensure that candidates that support single-payer health care, decent wages and pensions for workers, controls on corporations and a foreign policy based on achieving peace rather than driven by self-interest, cannot ever be heard.
Nader wants a more humane and democratic society. He’s seen that you can’t get anything done in Washington because senators like Obama and McCain ignore what’s good for Americans in pursuit of their own interests. Sure McCain talks like a maverick and Obama talks like a revolutionary, but look closely and you will see repeatedcapitulations to the very entities our government needs to get away from if we are to build a more democratic society.
Eugene Debs ran for president several times in the early 20th century. He advocated the right of women to vote at a time when it was not popular to do so and while other more successful politicians openly argued against giving women the right to participate directly in elections.
The general attitude among men was exemplified by Elihu Root, a former cabinet secretary to presidents McKinley and Roosevelt and winner of the 1912 Nobel Peace prize who said: "Suffrage would be a loss for women. I think so because suffrage implies not merely the casting of the ballot, (…) but suffrage, if it means anything, means entering upon the field of political life, and politics is modified war. In politics there is a struggle, strife, contention, bitterness, heart-burning, excitement, agitation, everything which is adverse to the true character of woman. Woman in strife becomes hard, harsh, unlovable, repulsive…” (N.Y. Constitutional Convention, 1894).
President Theodore Roosevelt, himself, said "Personally I believe in woman’s suffrage, but I am not an enthusiastic advocate of it, because I do not regard it as a very important matter.” (Letter to Dr. Lyman Abbott, 11/10/1908). And President Grover Cleveland said, "Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.” (1905).
Despite these sentiments Debs advocated this right. Yet he never obtained more than 6 percent of the vote. Let me ask you: Were the men who voted with Debs throwing their vote away? If you had lived in that era, would you have voted for him? Or would you have come up with an excuse for why it wasn’t important enough?
On the street when I am approached by an Obama/Biden volunteer or someone who tells me they’re voting for Obama, I usually ask "What about the FISA vote?” And each time I hear in return "What’s that?” Or if I say, "You know he supports the death penalty,” I usually hear in response, "No he doesn’t.”
At what point will there be intellectual honesty about what ishappening? People are voting for Obama because they find him to be an engaging public speaker and like his message regardless of his history of being part of the very problem he professes to want to fix. Most people don’t want the actual facts to interfere with the desperate hope that he is everything they want him to be.
Do you really want to vote for someone who has already voted to take away your civil liberties because of some vague wish that he’ll act differently as president? Obama himself, speaking of Sen. Hillary Clinton, made a remark that could just as easily apply to him, and, unwittingly makes the case for why no one should vote for him: "We can’t afford a president whose positions change with the politics of the moment. We need a president who knows that being ready on day one means getting it right from day one.” (Salem, OR, 3/21/08).
If voting for war appropriations and taking away civil liberties was bringing us closer to a more democratic and egalitarian society, well, I would advocate it. But it isn’t doing that.
What is your breaking point? At what point do you decide that you’ve had enough?
What do they have to do to lose your vote?
Matt Gonzalez is Ralph Nader’s Vice-Presidential running mate on an Independent ticket.



This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"I Hate The War" -- C.I. gets the most requested highlight by readers and Tonya e-mailed to say, "What kind of world do we live in when Bush's actions do not result in loud, angry editorials?" We agree, Tonya.

"What's on the carpet and in the head" -- If Betty sticks to her outline, wondered Lou in an e-mail, and wraps things up, then what? Betty's not sure. A part of her will miss Betinna ("She's like a real person to me at this point") but will not miss the trying to graft current events into a standing outline. If the site continues after the wrap up, it may be a blog. Also true is Betty may start a blog at another web address. She could not log in repeatedly yesterday and started to wonder if it was a sign that she needed to start a new site?

"Easy Fudge in the Kitchen" -- Trina offers a recipe and thoughts on the idiot Robin Morgan (among other things). She posted it Saturday morning, or thought she did.

"the weekend" -- Grab bag post from Rebecca.

"Batman supports Ralph Nader" -- The title alone should hook you on Ruth's post.

"Cher, Ralph Nader, Halloween" -- You got Cher news, Nader news and Halloween news from Kat. What more do you need?

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Me, Joe Biden" -- Isaiah's latest and he may not have a comic today. He's currently working on an illustration for an article for this site.

"Iraq and a boring train-wreck" -- The only thing worse than being a public disgrace, Kat explains, may be becoming a boring public disgrace.

"Nader, Honkey 'helpers' and more" -- Marcia covers the 'helpers' in terms of basics.

"Robin Morgan embarrasing herself in public again" -- Elaine on Robin Morgan's embarrassment and how Morgan's actions are not helpful to feminism.

"Take away NOW's tax status since they endorse" -- Someone explain to Kim Gandy how NOW cannot endorse a candidate and maintain their tax status. Explain it to her quick before it's pulled.

"Get back, Tim Wise Honkey Cat" -- Marcia explains to Tim Wise how (a) African-Americans are not objects for White boy to ride to fame and (b) tearing apart an African-American woman doesn't really score points for Wise-Ass Timmy.

"Matt Gonzalez, Howard Zinn, Jake Tapper"

"I-I-I, uh-uh-uh" -- video post by Mike of the stammering fool.

"Women's Media Center -- fact free for most of 2008..." & "THIS JUST IN! KEEP HER AWAY FROM A KEYBOARD!" -- Cedric and Wally take on a 'historian' who lies and lies badly.

"dear james, try reporting" -- Rebecca breaks it down for a reporter who needs a how-to guides (or maybe just a copy of Journalism For Dummies).

"The loaded question" -- Ruth explains how the current talk is correct and documented at this site sometime ago.

"Weather" -- Rebecca loves this post by Elaine but points out that if she had written it, she would have heard it about it from C.I. Elaine offers that these were things co-observed by C.I. and herself and that's the difference.

"Isaiah, horse race, Third" -- Mike breaks down last week's edition.

"Warn Them Willie Boy is Here""THIS JUST IN! WILLIE LOREN KATZ PISS!" -- Cedric and Wally take on Uncle Willie.
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